Sixth Lanka presidential elections concludes

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Colombo, Jan. 26 (ANI): The sixth presidential elections in Sri Lanka and the first in the post-LTTE era ended on Tuesday evening at 4 p.m. local time.

The polls evoked an enthusiastic response from voters who turned up in large numbers to decide the fate of incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa and his ex-army chief General (retired) Sarath Fonseka, even as explosions were reported from Jaffna over 300 kilometers away.

People started lining up even before the beginning of the polls which opened across the country at 7:00 a.m. Voting closed nine hours later.

"Two petrol bombs were hurled in Velvetthurai in Jaffna early in the morning," military spokesperson Udaya Nanayakkara said.

No one was injured in the blasts. Large queues was seen in polling booths at Colombo and elsewhere in the country as people waited eagerly to cast their ballet.

Twenty other candidates also are contesting, but were unlikely to make an impact. A quarter of a million electoral officials were stationed across the country for the poll.

In the run-up to the presidential poll, both Rajapaksa and Fonseka had claimed credit for winning the war against the Tamil rebels and ending a 26-year-long conflict. The opposition had also vowed to end corruption and Rajapaksa dynastic rule.

Allegations of misuse of state power, including the use of government vehicles, the state media and officials for the campaign were levelled against Rajapaksa.

Five loud explosions were reported in Jaffna this morning, but there were no details of casualties. Jaffna lies 396 kilometers north of Colombo. The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMV) said two bombs went off outside the home of a ruling party activist.

Election observers had warned of the possibility of violence interrupting the elections. About 70,000 police personnel backed by the armed forces have been deployed for the poll as a precautionary measure.

The counting of ballots will commence on Tuesday evening and results will be announced on Wednesday. (ANI)

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